Planning your Commute

Given the current situation, commuting, as we know it, might never be the same. In fact, I think it has already changed.

I haven’t commuted to NYC in over a year and chances are I will not commute there as often as I was ever again. Not only because of COVID-19 and the fact that trains, subways and buildings are packed with people, but also because I shifted the way I work, becoming more comfortable with remote work. I have no need to commute, or rather, I can choose when to do it.

Now is a good time to begin planning how you’ll commute, if you have to. COVID-19 is here to stay, and for the time being it is dangerous to take that lightly.

From trains and other public transportation issues, to being in close quarters with other people, you need to factor in many things, to include:

  • Travel in often packed and enclosed vehicles
  • Travel being disrupted by the need to keep social distance
  • Office space where people might be on top of each other, with shared kitchens, restrooms and elevators
  • Streets packed with people

I think the biggest factors are commuting time and close quarters. Commuting time might be disrupted and extended because you might need to wait for the next train, or bus, in order to avoid being too close to other people. Also, office space in big urban locations such as NYC might be problematic. You might find a way to sit relatively away from other people, if your office has enough room for this, however how would you keep common areas (restrooms, kitchen, elevators…) from being crowded, and clean after each person goes in? Would you allow only four people per elevator? How long will it take you to get to your office and how/where would you wait for the elevator?

Questions, yes. Answers, none so far. It’s a difficult problem to solve, since cities are designed for social interaction and human gatherings...

Personally, I will take all these things and factor them into my plan for the worst case scenario. Give myself enough time, bring the right protective gear, and know that I might have to call whoever I am meeting in the city and cancel the meeting without a lot of notice, and have it remotely, if possible. We need to remain fluid now, and be open with each other’s options.

When it comes to planning the commute, or travel for that matter, in current times, begin with understanding your environment, from vehicles, to common areas, to timing. Once you have understood and assessed all that, make a plan on how to move in and out of those things, when to go and when to stay, and communicate to all those involved that you might not travel - if you have the choice.

Stay safe. Stay healthy.